Our April Studio Hours will be hosted from my kitchen, where I’ll have a natural dye pot or two cooking, and our conversation will focus on, obviously, natural dyeing. I’m no expert in this, but I am an expert in learning new things, so I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned and also pointing out resources I’ve found helpful, and of course Kate and I will both be making notes about topics to cover here in the magazine.
We encourage Studio and Founding Members to come prepared to spend an hour diving into natural dyeing on Tuesday, April 13th, at 4:30PM Pacific / 7:30PM Eastern Time. We’ll also talk about planning to grow some dyestuffs this summer, so bring your imagination! (Join or upgrade your membership to participate.)
“Come prepared” can mean any number of things. (And if you’re not terribly interested in the topic but want to come hang out, bring a project to work on and enjoy the conversation from your favourite comfy chair.)
- As always, Studio Hours are what you make of them! Come prepared to spend a delightful hour with folks who also love to make things from fibre, string or fabric.
- If you’d like to dye yarn, fibre or fabric during Studio Hours
- and you’ve never done so before, you’ll want to read up a bit on mordanting (key to preparing fibres to take dye). You have enough time to mordant your yarn/fibre/fabric in advance of Studio Hours, so you’ll be ready to go. (I like to mordant a big batch of materials all at once. It keeps! So then I have mordanted yarn ready whenever the desire to dye takes me.)
- choose what you’ll use as a dye. You can use food scraps (like onion skins, avocado pits and/or peels, beets), dried flowers if you had the foresight last summer or fall to save some or can pick some up, or natural dye you purchase.
- you’ll want to have your dye pot ready. Use one of the resources below to determine how much dyestuff you’ll need for cooking up a dye pot based on the weight of material you’ll dye, and get the concoction going. Try to have it going for at least an hour or so before Studio Hours so you’ll be ready to actually dye when we’re all together.
- Along with your dye pot, you’ll want tongs or another implement for handling the material you put into the dye pot, and you’ll want to have some rags handy for cleaning up drips and spills.
- Come with questions. Natural dyeing involves a lot of trial and error, and experimentation. There are many variables that contribute to an item’s final colour, and I have neither the patience nor the tools to try to control for all of them, so I embrace the uncertainty. I can always overdye an ugly result, after all.
- Have a notebook ready so you can take notes of ideas, more to learn, dye possibilities, or plans you want to make to grow some dye plants this summer.
We’ve turned commenting on on this post, so please feel free to ask questions there, or to let us know what you’re going to use as dye!
- The Maiwa Guide to Natural Dyes is a fantastic overview, including information on mordants and lots of photos of dye results. Maiwa is based in Vancouver, and has an outstanding online shop. If you need to order alum or other mordants, you’ll find them here, along with a wide selection of natural dyes and also yarn and fabric blanks.
- On mordanting.
- Books I’ve found helpful (there are lots of great books—add your favourites in the comments!):
Monthly Studio Hours are open to all Studio and Founding Members of Digits & Threads. Each month we gather on Zoom to focus on a topic, and through that discussion connect socially through learning and sharing with folks from around the world. Join or upgrade your membership today!